Adztech gains certification as economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business

FOOTHOLD: Geri Leon Guerrero, center, is the president and general manager of Adztech & Public Relations Inc., which recently earned a certificate as an economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business. In the photograph with her, from left, are: Christopher “Taco” Rowland, Paul Mendiola, Leon Guerrero, Jaceth Duenas and Jason Davis. Contributed photo

The woman-owned and operated Adztech & Public Relations Inc. is the first local company to earn a federal certification aimed to help small women-owned businesses that are considered economically disadvantaged, Adztech stated in a press release. 

President and Manager Geri Leon Guerrero said the process took longer and was more stringent than the Women-Owned Small Business certification process. 

“It takes six months for the application process,” she said. Leon Guerrero said it means her company is now eligible for contracts that the federal government will make specifically available to businesses considered to be EDWOSB.

“It gives us an extra measure, an extra point to gain a contract or a bid when you have this certification,” she said.

Leon Guerrero was the sales and marketing person of the business previously known as Images in 2005. She, along with Martin Leon Guerrero and Michele Santos, opened up Adztech in 2005. Along with a team of professionals, they have developed a company that has had a number of partnerships with other individuals and organizations on island, according to the release.

It was a previous collaboration that allowed her and her team to learn more about federal projects. That experience helped propel her toward gaining EDWOSB certification.

And she’s hoping she’ll be instrumental in encouraging others to get certified as EDWOSB as well.

“I know there are many other women-owned businesses out there and I really encourage them to take the steps to get the certification,” Leon Guerrero said.

“What’s really exciting for me is this really does allow me to partner with other people, other companies, and so this certification will help not just Adztech but our community." 

Boris Hertslet, program manager of Guam Procurement Technical Assistance Center, said Adztech is the only company on island that is considered an economically disadvantaged, woman-owned business.

Hertslet said there are 150 local businesses that are hub zone certified. There are four that are women-owned small businesses.

He said what distinguishes the EDWOSB is the woman owner doesn’t have access to capital, for example, there are thresholds for the amount of assets the owner can have.

“There’s probably a ton of women business owners that qualify for it,” Hertslet said, reiterating Leon Guerrero’s hope that more businesswomen apply for the certification.

He said the EDWOSB has been around since 2016.

“Back then it was a self-certification,” he said. “The program had a lot of fraud.”

The program was revised and what resulted was, as Leon Guerrero stated, a more stringent process toward certification.

“The women owners have to be majority of the owners with full and unconditional ownership,” Hertslet added, saying as the majority owners the women should have final say in both the long-term plans for the company, but also the day-to-day decisions. “They have to be running that business. And there are a lot of businesses that fall into that category.”

He said there are four programs available locally that are aimed to give businesses a leg up in bidding for contracts:

• Women-owned and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses;

• Hub zone;

• 8(a) Business Development for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities; and

• Small business.

Hertslet said the advantage of being certified in any of these programs is “instead of going up against the whole world, you’re now in a much-narrowed field of competition with others who are similarly certified.”

“There’s opportunity out there and these programs, like the EDWOSB are geared to help businesses find those opportunities,” he said.

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